Felicia Leatherwood: Hollywood's Hottest Natural Hairstylist

 Felicia Leatherwood

Self-proclaimed hair whisperer, Felicia Leatherwood is entrusted with some of Hollywood’s most famous hair. She’s only recently gained notoriety but this overnight sensation has been over 26 years in the making.

Her fascination with hair began at age 9. Leatherwood grew up in L.A. surrounded by girls whose hair textures differed from hers. With her mother at a loss for how to manage her hair, she set out to teach herself. She eventually got the hang of things, becoming the neighborhood stylist. 

A tried and true “hair nerd” as she calls herself, Leatherwood has spent much time honing in on her craft. These talents led her to BET and in turn, a built-in clientele. This proved helpful when she ultimately decided to go to cosmetology school and begin work at Millennium, a celebrity salon based in L.A.

Popsugar interview with celebrity hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood

A creative mind

Felicia Leatherwood

Credit: @lovingyourhair

Singer-songwriter Jill Scott was one of her first clients; someone who in her opinion allowed women to see themselves as both natural and beautiful. These images weren’t the norm before the societal re-emergence of natural hair.

Over the course of her long career, Leatherwood has worked with Scott and many others to make sure Black women get the hair care, confidence, and representation they deserve.

Among her most famous creations is the mohawk inspired updo she created for actress Teyonah Parris’ appearance at the 19th annual SAG Awards. She often thanks her clients for giving her the freedom to be inventive.

Styling everything from Viola Davis’ TWA to filmmaker Ava Duvernay’s flowing locs, Felicia Leatherwood's work has made natural hair a topic of major conversation. 

Braided crown tutorial

Though her skills are reserved for Hollywood’s elite, Leatherwood’s impact is far-reaching. Take her work with Issa Rae for example. HBO’s Insecure has gained a massive and loyal following. Protagonist Issa Dee is relatably awkward and flawed but unlike her choices, her hair never disappoints.

Hair may seem trivial or superficial but the presence of natural hair on a major network communicates an important point to everyone tuning in. Textured hair is worthy of acceptance, it’s normal.

The significance of Issa’s hair is amplified because of its coily texture - type 4 hair has a history of being rejected and seen as less than. Leatherwood’s work destroys this idea one episode at a time.

Clients like Skai Jackson and Yara Shahidi extend this influence to younger audiences who very much need to see themselves represented on tv.

The Detangler Brush

Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush

The Detangler Brush

From her experience caring for natural hair in the beauty world, Felicia knows what it takes to keep your hair and scalp healthy. She has published many tutorial videos on Youtube sharing her knowledge with the natural hair community. 

Felicia created The Detangler Brush, a must-have accessory that easily detangles all hair types. The brush is designed flexible at the top to allow easy and painless detangling. While other brushes are bonded on all four sides, the detangler brush is only bonded on three sides allow for better handling.

Felicia Leatherwood The Detangler Brush

The Detangler Brush

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Traditional brushes can pull on some types of hair, causing some hair loss. The flexible bristles of this innovative brush move with your hair effortlessly and are recommended for natural curls or waves.

The original detangler brush sold by the thousands and received lots of positive reviews for women. Felicia Leatherwood has released the Detangler 2 along with a new line of hair accessories.

From Representation to Results

She may seem far removed from the little people but Leatherwood considers herself an active participant in the community she influences. She understands how difficult it can be to style natural hair because she’s been there. Everyone has to start somewhere but the goal is healthy hair.

The advice she offers to naturals is to get familiar with their hair texture. Once you understand texture, it’s easier to identify which products and tools will work for you. She only uses the best on her clients and recommends the same for at-home hair care, offering brands such as Oyin Handmade and Form Beauty (both Black-owned).

Leatherwood has created her own tool for detangling (from tip to root please!) and makes her hairstyles “no fuss" so they can be easily recreated, explaining that beautiful hair shouldn’t be impossible to achieve.

The Bigger Picture 

felicia leatherwood in ghana

Credit: @lovingyourhair

It will take more than one stylist to change the perception of natural hair. Still, Felicia Leatherwood is restoring confidence to droves of women. She gives them the freedom of nonconformity, making her a welcome addition to an industry that still has many strides to make. 
 

- Ebena